Have you ever heard of these? I bet you have.
M-learning stands for “Mobile-learning”, it describes learning content that’s delivered via mobile device, so through an app. E-learning, on the other hand, means electronic-Learning, it describes learning content delivered typically via the internet (computer).
The dynamic global rise of mobile devices was bound to affect the learning industry at some point. M-learning has become an important part of the online corporate training market. However, lots of people consider M-learning and E-learning to be the same thing. In very broad terms (both not via an old-fashioned book) I suppose this is true. However, those people also run the risk of limiting their understanding and benefiting from this learning innovation.
The type of learning experience available on a mobile device is different when compared to a desktop computer. Below I will list some differences between M-learning and E-learning, later I will highlight the benefits of M-learning
1. User-generated content
E-learning programs are usually set, learners receive pre-programmed information on their computer when they perform the course. Within this learning environment, learners cannot share feedback with each other online. Since they are unable to do so, there is a chance that they might lose motivation for the course and that they have engagement issues with it. This mostly applies for learners who prefer to work in collaborative environments.
M-learning, on the contrary, involves a huge social learning dimension since these learning apps often encourage the users to share their feedback. Next, to this, these apps have usually a communication platform in where users can share their experience and meaningful relationships between learners can arise. It’s very interactive.
2. Simultaneous performance support
M-Learning material is always available, provided we have our phone with us. Therefore, learners don’t really focus on memorising the information, but more on capturing and sharing the key points. M-Learning gives learners the advantage of instant access to information, this will result in higher productivity. E-learning does not provide this form of just-in-time experience but inserts the process of learning in a definite time frame.
3. Learning schedule differences
Another difference between m-Learning and e-Learning is the timing of the learning experience. E-Learners must sit by their computer and follow the course at their workstation. Next to this, learners are often asked to learn a certain amount of information during each session.
M-learning, on the other hand, is available if you have your phone with you. So, if you want, you could even learn at the toilet, when you are travelling etc. Much more flexible! The learning sessions tend to be shorter, being mainly based on micro-learning, but we’ll come back to that in a later blog.
Main benefits of M-learning summarised:
M-learning is flexible since you can learn whenever and wherever you want. M-learning is designed to create engagement, which is related to course completion. Next to this, today’s younger employees like working together at the workplace and with the community platforms usually used in m-Learning this is possible. Also, the performance will increase, since employees prefer learning methods that don’t disrupt their daily routines and m-learning does not, since information is easily accessible during work. Lastly, there is a clear learning path. Since today’s m-Learning apps have an integrated phone-based agenda, that sends them reminders, alerts and updates on their courses. This will keep the learners motivated.
Now it all sounds perfect for companies to implement M-learning in their training programs, but why haven’t they done so? I mean, it can give the company a competitive advantage, however, they only need to overcome the following challenges…
First: Data security. Due to the increase of mobile connections, the level of exposure to security threats also rises. The risk of potential breaches of corporate networks holds a lot of companies back from implementing m-learning (read: WannaCry).
Second: Content issues. The training materials made for the classroom, rarely work for m-learning. The strength of mobile learning is that you can implement games, videos etc. However, this is not implemented in classroom style learning usually. The challenge of creating and adapting content for m-learning will cost time and thus money.
Speaking of money. Third: Budget constraints. The costs of implementing a successful m-learning program mean investing a lot of money and resources in it. Sometimes those resources and budget are simply not available. On the other hand, m-learning can improve the employee retention and engagement, which results in substantial returns on the investment of the company. Also, the company should analyse if there is a high need for implementing m-learning. Since m-learning will really work for the Millennials, but if you have mostly baby boomers working in your organisation, it will be a different story.
To conclude, m-Learning will increase the effectiveness of corporate training compared to e-Learning, despite the challenges. M-Learning will give companies a competitive advantage and the employee engagement will increase. Yet, the company should be aware of the security risks and costs associated with it.
This post is brought to you by one of AQ’s Undergraduates, Paula van Staalduinen. As part of our internship programs, undergraduates and classic interns are encouraged to take part in company culture. Paula’s primary project focuses on training programs and eLearning and how best to adapt this to industries under pressure.